Onkyo BD-SP807 early review: The Blu-ray player of your dreams?

Onkyo has delivered yet another amazing piece of kit to the CNET UK offices. For the first time in as long as we can remember we're actually excited about a Blu-ray player

Ian Morris
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Do you dream of Blu-ray players? If the answer is 'yes', then we suspect the Onkyo BD-SP807 might be the player that features in your brain's nocturnal activities. What makes this machine factor in so many happy dreams is that it offers stunning-quality hardware at a wallet-friendly price. The £600 BD-SP807 is intended to best machines that cost twice as much, and we're very pleased to have got our hands on one for testing purposes.

The BD-SP807 has a fairly interesting appearance. Quite a large player, it's roughly the size of early machines from the likes of Panasonic and Sony. In the BD-SP807's case, however, the size, weight and design are all intended to produce the best picture and sound quality possible from Blu-rays, DVDs and even audio CDs. It's not ugly either. It looks quite industrial, but that's kind of cool. The LED display is rather basic, but we're not too bothered about that -- it's not like you have to watch a film on it.

If the machine itself is the stuff of dreams, the remote control comes straight out of a nightmare. Made out of plastic, and about the size of a cod, we can't help but be repulsed by it. We're slightly disappointed that Onkyo hasn't put as much love into its controller as it has with the rest of the machine. It's probably fair to assume that most of the people who will buy this player will have a fancy-pants controller like a Logitech Harmony 1100 but, even so, we're saddened by the cheap plastic and ugly design.

While the BD-SP807 loses some kudos due to its remote control, it makes up for it with its lovely, gold-plated output terminals on the rear. There are sockets for 7.1 analogue audio output, as well as down-mixed stereo sound. Component and composite video jacks are also present, and finished with gold too. As you'd expect, the BD-SP807 sports HDMI and Ethernet jacks, so you can get the most out of your Blu-ray movies.

Onkyo tells us that the player is designed with quality in mind. The disc tray is centrally mounted, which, along with a very rigid chassis, is supposed to keep vibration to a minimum, which, in turn, is meant to help prevent the introduction of video and audio errors during playback. The machine's video-processing chops are provided by Anchor Bay and its Video Reference Series processor. This should mean that you'll get amazing upscaled DVD playback at a 1080p resolution, as well as Blu-ray material in all its native HD glory.

Those interested in Blu-ray load speeds will be disappointed to learn that it took 1 minute and 9 seconds for the BD-SP807 to load our standard test disc and start playback. That's not exactly speedy, but good things do generally come to those who wait.

The BD-SP807 is on sale now. We don't test audio and video performance in early reviews, because we want to spend a decent amount of time with the product first. If you want to know all the details about how this machine performs, keep an eye out for a full review in the coming weeks.

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The box is like that of any other Blu-ray player, but, due to its contents, it generated much more excitement than we generally feel when we see cardboard containers.
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Nestled in some protective packaging is the BD-SP807, waiting for our critical eye to be cast upon it.
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Oh, sweet mercy, no. What's up with this ugly beast? The remote control really is very hideous indeed. Why can't manufacturers learn from Pioneer? There's a company that knows how to make a proper remote.
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Here you go -- a proper remote. Okay, our Kuro TV cost thousands of pounds, but we don't imagine much of that was spent on the controller. It looks and feels the part.
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Eugh. What a monstrosity.
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The good news is that the remote is the only part of the BD-SP807 that isn't beautifully made. The sockets for composite and component video are gold-plated, and there's a single RCA jack for digital audio. Also included is an optical audio connector, if that suits you better. There's an Ethernet socket for Blu-ray Profile 2.0 features. Also, a Blu-ray player wouldn't be a Blu-ray player without an HDMI output.
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Analogue 7.1 audio outputs are included, should you wish to use your older, non-HDMI-capable AV receiver. There are also down-mixed stereo sockets for people who prefer to listen in plain old stereo.
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A fan keeps the player cool, and spins all the time. Fortunately, during our initial look at the machine, it proved whisper-quiet.
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The disc tray looks pretty standard when extended...
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...but you can see that it has a quite unusually shaped end, which is visible when the tray is open or closed. The central mounting point for the drive unit is done to maintain the quality of playback, and keep vibration to a minimum.
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As you'd expect from a £600 player, the BD-SP807 supports a good range of formats and offers plenty of extra features.
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An SD-card socket is provided for storing BD-Live content, watching AVCHD video and looking at digital photos. The player can only support SDHC cards of up to 8GB, however.
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Ooooh, we do love a proper off switch. And this is what we call a proper off switch. Yay!
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Playback controls on the front panel allow you to play, pause, stop and select a chapter or track.
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There are even lights on the front panel to keep you up-to-date about the type of disc you're watching.

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